A Monolith Has Fallen
A monolith has just fallen. Did you hear the crash? When I grew up there were basically two encyclopedias to choose from, “World Book Encyclopedia” and “Encyclopedia Britannica.” One was easy to use and easier to understand. The other was the legendary giant of information and tomes. One was a paragon of information. It was considered the very best of its breed.
Well, times have changed and it is just one more nail in the coffin of the status quo for information distribution. The Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that it will take copy and text from Web readers, somewhat along the lines of Wikipedia.
The new policy suggests that Britannica is not fully joining the wiki model to any significant degree. Britannica’s staff will still oversee its content and will remain the guard dogs to authenticity. Britannica’s staff claims “We are not abdicating our responsibility as publishers or burying it under the now-fashionable ‘wisdom of the crowds.’”
Pre-1998, if I wanted to know something or learn something, there were only a few sources and all of them were on paper. The encyclopedia would have been one of those sources. Since 1998 or so, if I or anybody else wanted to know something all you needed to do was an instant Internet search. I wonder if there are any stats to the decreased use of printed encyclopedias since the advent of the web search. I would imagine the trend line wound not be pretty. Did you know that there are more than 2.7-billion searches performed on Google each month?
So what or whom is going to be next to join the social-networked, digital information brigade? For those “Star Trek Next Generation” fans, this is like a Borg episode. The Borg were a half-human, half-computer race of beings. They were all networked together. Entire races of beings incorporated into one big, bio-electric network. What one knew, they all knew. Is that where we are headed? The Borg had a catch phrase for new races they would meet, before incorporating them into the body politic: “Resistance is futile.”